Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

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 Volume 2.4 This View’s Prose September 30, 2002 


    The Christian Creeds Are Statements of Fact    
         
   

In a similar way, volumes of angry controversy have been poured out about the Christian creeds, under the impression that they represent, not statements of fact, but arbitrary edicts. The conditions of salvation, for instance, are discussed as though they were conditions for membership in some fantastic club like the RedHeaded League.

They do not purport to be anything of the kind. Rightly or wrongly, they purport to be necessary conditions based on the facts of human nature. We are accustomed to find conditions attached to human undertakings, some of which are arbitrary and some not. A regulation that allowed a cook to make omelettes only on condition of first putting on a top hat might conceivably be given the force of law, and penalties might be inflicted for disobedience; but the condition would remain arbitrary and irrational. The law that omelettes can be made only on condition that there shall be a preliminary breaking of eggs is one with which we are sadly familiar. The efforts of idealists to make omelettes without observing that condition are foredoomed to failure by the nature of things.

The Christian creeds are too frequently assumed to be in the top-hat category; this is an error; they belong to the category of egg-breaking. Even that most notorious of damnatory clauses which provokes sensitive ecclesiastics to defy the rubric and banish the Athanasian Creed from public recitation does not say that God will refuse to save unbelievers; it is at once less arbitrary and more alarming: “which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.” It purports to be a statement of fact. The proper question to be asked about any creed is not, “Is it pleasant?” but, “is it true?”

“Christianity has compelled the mind of man not because it is the most cheering view of man’s existence but because it is truest to the facts.” [Lord David Cecil] It is unpleasant to be called sinners, and much nicer to think that we all have hearts of gold — but have we? It is agreeable to suppose that the more scientific knowledge we acquire the happier we shall be — but does it look like it? It is encouraging to feel that progress is making us automatically every day and in every way better, and better, and better — but does history support that view? “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men were created equal” — but does the external evidence support this a priori assertion? Or does experience rather suggest that man is “very far gone from original righteousness and is of his own nature inclined to evil”?

   
         
   

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)

   
   

The Mind of the Maker (1941)
Chapter I “The ‘Laws’ of Nature and Opinion” pp. 15ff

   

    The Defense of Liberty    
         
    What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage, and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises.
   
         
    Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
   
    from Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois, September 11, 1858
Collected Works
Volume III p. 95
   



 Volume 2.4 This View’s Prose September 30, 2002 





The View from the Core, and all original material, © E. L. Core 2002. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”